2012-01-12 Service

4 02 2012
Boat Sermon
by OriKosh

I’ve had a love of water, boats and ships for as long as I can remember. Just to give you an idea…one of the first pictures ever taken of me that I have seen is me with a white sailor’s cap perched atop my head.

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2012-01-19 Service

1 02 2012
Reverend James Reeb
by Darcy Cedarbridge

Reading

In the struggles we choose for ourselves, in the ways we move forward in our lives and bring our world forward with us,

It is right to remember the names of those who gave us strength in this choice of living. It is right to name the power of hard lives well lived.
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2012-01-26 Service

31 01 2012
Small Dog in the World
by Joan Ixito

“The lower animals are our brethren. I include among them the lion and the tiger. We do not know how to live with these carnivorous beasts and poisonous reptiles because of our ignorance. When man learns better, he will learn to befriend even these. Today he does not even know how to befriend a man of a different religion or from a different country.”

– Mahatma Gandhi





2009-10-22 Service

22 10 2009

Turn on your music controls, please.  I’ll be playing some music during this service.

Come, Come, Whoever You Are
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
Ours is no caravan of despair.
Come, yet again come!

>> Welcome.

Welcome to the middle of October.
Fall is in it’s full autumnal glory–a final bit of prettiness before the chill sets in.
I was a little surprised last week: I was on the phone with someone from Europe who commented that fall
isn’t quite as pretty over there–and I guess in Australia and Brazil this time of the year is springful…

To the visitors here, welcome!
If you are not familiar with Unitarian Universalism (“UU”), a single service is not enough to experience the
diversity of ideas and styles of service that we traditionally offer–either here in Second Life, or Real Life.
Please come again.
Check the Map in Lovelace at other times–many times you can find people here chatting, or just sitting in the quiet of this beautiful place.
You can also look at the Real Life (“RL”) web site for the Unitarian Universalist Association: http://uua.org
If you are physically far away from a Unitarian Universalist congregation, you can check out the Church of the Larger Fellowship,
either from the information board behind you, or at http://clfuu.org

To the regular members of our little fellowship, welcome!
It’s always great to see you.

I speak parts of the service over the voice chat.
Since not everyone has voice chat active, and not everyone is in a place to hear voice, the words I say will appear
here in regular text chat, in this color that scripted objects appear.
If you have trouble seeing this, you can adjust the colors in your Preferences, or bring up the chat History.

>> Announcements.
Some announcements:

There is a SL group you can join to be notified of activities here in this fellowship,
“Unitarian Universalists of SL”; it is free to join, or Instant Message me after the service.

There is a neighborhood of UU’s over on the mainland.
If you are interested in purchasing or renting land with some people who share similar values to yourself in SL,
please contact Lilith Yue, Beacon Questi, or myself.
It is a nice little community.

Are there any other announcements of church activities or other things that may be of interest to religious liberals in SL?

>> Chalice Lighting.

Every Monday the Unitarian Universalist Association sends a little meditation to many people’s
inboxes to start their week.
This is Monday’s meditation:

There is a living web that runs through us
To all the universe
Linking us each with each and through all life
On to the distant stars.
Each knows a little corner of the world, and lives
As if this were his all.
We no more see the farther reaches of the threads
Than we see of the future, yet they’re there.
Touch but one thread, no matter which;
The thoughtful eye may trace to distant lands
Its firm continuing strand, yet lose its filaments as they reach out,
But find at last it coming back to him from whom it led.
We move as in a fog, aware of self
But only dimly conscious of the rest
As they are close to us in sight or feeling.
New objects loom up for a time, fade in and out;
Then, sometimes, as we look on unawares, the fog lifts
And then there’s the web in shimmering beauty,
Reaching past all horizons. We catch our breath;
Stretch out our eager hands, and then
In comes the fog again, and we go on,
Feeling a little foolish, doubting what we had seen.
The hands were right. The web is real.
Our folly is that we so soon forget.

— Robert Weston

>> Opening Song

The UU Church of Nashua, New Hampshire, records their services and I use some of their recordings.
I asked a few years ago and they said OK though I’m still not sure they understand Second Life.
And while I was preparing this service my son Tristan told me that the Lucy Barnsley 5th grade chorus is
practicing this for their recital coming up.

I’ll be your bridge
Over troubled water
When you’re down
I will carry you.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

When you’re weary
Feeling small
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all.

I’m on your side
When times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you.

I’ll take your part
When darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

I’ll be your bridge
Over troubled water
When you’re down
I will carry you.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

Sail on Silver Girl,
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way.

See how they shine
If you ever need a friend
I’m sailing right behind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.

I’ll be your bridge
Over troubled water
When you’re down
I will carry you.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

—-

>> Joys and Concerns.

As strange as it might seem, we are a real community here in this funny world we find ourselves in.

Now is the time of this service when we say our Joys and Concerns.
If there is something that has recently happened you wish to share, happy or sad, you may say it now.
Or you can sit silently and just be in this moment.

We know that there are joys and sorrows in our hearts not said here.
Hold them and use the power of this community to help you in your time of need;
or with your joy, may it be increased.

—-

Our reading is two little items from Thomas Jefferson, the first widely quoted out of context.

>>  Reading

(written in 1787, after Shay’s Rebellion)

I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing,
and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.
Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them.
An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions
as not to discourage them too much.
It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.

(and in a letter written in 1810)

I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions.
I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known,
we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects.
But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind.
As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed,
and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also,
and keep pace with the times.
We might as well require a man to wear still the same coat which fitted him when a boy,
as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

— Thomas Jefferson

>> Offertory

The operation of this fellowship, like any UU fellowship, depends on the time and talents people give to help out.
Not only do we have the services here, but you can drop in at times and find people just hanging out and chatting.
Being here, now, is a great contribution.
Another way you can help is to send some L$ our way.
There are offertory baskets in the front and back of the sanctuary, always available for your donations.

>>  Homily “The Current Revolution”

There is a rebellion–a revolution–going on in the United States of America right now.
But it’s nothing that hasn’t happened a dozen times in our past, and I’ll guess it will happen again in the future.
And usually–usually–the country is a better place because of it.

America started as unique in the world; some still call our society “the American Experiment” and we note how our
small “L” liberal democracy has changed over the past two hundred and thirty-some years.
In 1776, women had few rights, most blacks even less, and power was concentrated in the landed gentry.
At some level this wasn’t too different from the monarchist European model the American colonies operated under before Independence.
Indeed, the biggest change was not necessarily political but economic: “merchantilism” was ended and the Americans were free to
trade with anyone and set up an independent manufacturing base.
We can see that economics and politics work together to shape the ways of the world.

These revolutions have been noted by historians: the American Revolution is the first one.
There were some changes in how the country was run: at first, the loose confederation that held together the states was
strained by the intentionally hobbled federal government.
From this came the United States Constitution of 1787; a quite major change in how the central government operated.
For the first part of USA history, events moved along, but the “peculiar institution” of slavery was causing tears in the fabric of the republic.
With the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the rise of the abolitionist movement, rifts were starting to build between North and South.
The election of the first Republican president with abolition of slavery as a national goal, Abraham Lincoln, caused the South to secede in rebellion.

During many times that been of great societal change–a revolution–at first many people have not been
aware that anything significant was going on.
Most people thought things were changing a little bit, but didn’t understand that in a few years things would change greatly.
And as events started to play out, people started to identify themselves more loudly as advocating change or keeping things the same.

I could list the other small revolutions that went through American socierty and politics:  the Progressives of the turn of the last century,
The Great Depression which turned things upside-down worldwide, resulting a world war.
The Cold War that followed which actually opened up the end of Segregation; a revolution as great as any, and
events last week in Louisiana show that even with the election of a black president there are still remnants of it lingering today.

The last political revolution in the United States was the “Reagan Revolution.”
With its roots in the libertarian writings of Ayn Rand and the 1964 nomination of Barry Goldwater as the Republican candidate,
the “government is the problem” philosophy took hold at the federal level.
Reagan introduced tax cuts as a mechanism to stimulate the economy, and a “private sector can do it better” philosophy
which led to the outsourcing of a large amount of the work the federal government performs.
One difference with the Reagan Revolution was that it was a a reaction the social programs of the 1960’s;
a throwback to the best aspects of the status quo of the 1950’s.
In a slight turnaround of the usual definitions of the words, those wanting to change the society back were labelled
conservatives, and those trying to preserve the 1960’s standards were identified as liberals.
Some would argue that the zenith of this revolution was reached during the start of the recent Bush administration, and as
an at-times government contractor I could see the decline of the comptence of the civil service firsthand.

“The revolution will not be televised.”
— Gil Scott-Heron

I think we are in another revolution that fully started in 2006.
The election of Obama was exceptionally historic, but also remember that he won the nomination by defeating the
politically well-connected wife of a popular former president.
The inability of the political regime–both parties–to deal with the problems that people are having has led to the changes we’re going through.
It also doesn’t help that the previous administration made some decisions that, in 20-20 hindsight, were absolutely the wrong thing to do.
And some of these decisions have resulted in outcomes that exposed other deep problems in the society that have to be repaired.
Our instant-event, driven-by-the-extremes media has lost the ability to sit back and observe the bigger picture;
the only program that seems to do this anymore is the Daily Show on Comedy Central!

I think that we are entering an era where those in the United States are realizing that we really are all in this together.
This is something that the Europeans and the Far East Asians learned in the late 1940’s and 1950’s–bombed out
in World War II, the physical infrastructure and social power system had to be rebuilt, and they chose to rebuild socially in a more egalitarian way.

I think a large number of people–not a majority, but more every day–want a more equitable American society.
At times we spend so much effort making sure that one person doesn’t get a few more benefits from the common good, that in the past we failed
to really care about those who were gaming the bigger system to their advantage.
Part of that attitude is that people think that once they are sitting on top of the pile then they will get to enjoy the advantages of gaming the system.
But part of the latest troubles in the economic world are showing that a lot of that game has been lies and corruption, and that practically everyone has no
chance of making it to the top of the pile.

Surveys have shown that a majority of whites did not vote for Obama in the recent election.
We are now in a traditional revolution where the liberals are open to change, and the conservatives are defending the status quo.
And the conservatives are a little bit afraid, because they see that their old social regime is clearly changing.
The increasing number of minorities living in the affluent areas of the country do have the old guard needlessly concerned.
I also think the increasing number of people who identify themselves as unchurched has many concerned; I know
that my parents can’t understand how their non-christian son can live a moral life without submitting to an invisible sky-man.
These changes in American society are adding stress to the majority population; their unwarrated fear of change is making them, well, fearful.

But I think that this revolution will run to a completion, and the USA will be better because of it.
We won’t have an many salesmen sitting at the top of the heap of capitalism making an obscene amount of money.
We will find that we need a more equitable distribution of the wealth of this country;
sure we’ll tax the rich more, but I still wouldn’t mind living on a million dollars a year after taxes.
It’s not always going to be easy during this transition: we are going to have to figure out how to leave Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in a way that
they won’t turn into another set of failed states.
The debts that are being racked up to bail out of our current recession will have to be handled; though this is a world-wide problem
that will have to be dealt with all over; the hyperinflation of the Weimar Republic won’t happen in any realistic scenario, but the
“stagflation” of 15% annually, as seen in the 1970’s, is within the realm of possibility.

The current debate of health care is having people realize that things, good and bad, happen more randomly than we once thought.
And this randomness connects us together deeply.

“A man can go from liberal to conservative in 20 years without changing a single thought.”
— (attributed to) Salvador Dali

—-

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
all right, all right

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re doing what we can
But if you want money
for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
all right, all right

Ah

You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You better free you mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
all right, all right
all right, all right, all right
all right, all right, all right

— John Lennon

—-

>> Closing Words.

Go in peace, speak the truth, give thanks each day.
Respect the earth and her creatures,
for they are alive like you.
Care for your body; it is a wondrous gift.
Live simply. Be of service.
Be guided by your faith and not your fear.
Go lightly on your path. Walk in a sacred manner.

— Gary Kowalski

Be well, the service is over.  Amen.

>>  Coffee Time.

Please hang around here afterwards for “coffee” and conversation.
If you’re a new visitor here, or have been here a few times and have questions, speak up and let us properly welcome you.
Regulars already know they can chat about anything here!





Liberals and Conservatives

9 04 2009

Reading

Easter was the old North
Goddess of the dawn.
She rises daily in the East
And yearly in spring for the great

Paschal candle of the sun.
Her name lingers like a spot
Of gravy in the figured vestment
Of the language of the Britains.

Her totem the randy bunny.
Our very Thursdays and Wednesdays
Are stained by syllables of thunder
And Woden’s frenzy.

O my fellow-patriots loyal to this
Our modern world of high heels,
Vaccination, brain surgery—
May they pass over us, the old

Jovial raptors, Apollonian flayers,
Embodiments. Egg-hunt,
Crucifixion. Supper of encrypted
Dishes: bitter, unrisen, a platter

Compass of martyrdom,
Ground-up apples and walnuts
In sweet wine to embody mortar
Of affliction, babies for bricks.

Legible traces of the species
That devises the angel of death
Sailing over our doorpost
Smeared with sacrifice.

– Robert Pinsky
‘, ‘

Spirit of life, we come together this Easter season to rejoice in your ongoing creation around us and within us.
We come to rejoice, but we come with burdens of sorrow and pain, of shame and fear, of false obligation and false pride.
On this Easter may we discover a joyous and courageous faith enabling us to set these burdens down.

We would remember the teachings of Jesus, whose words and example embodied your outreaching and unconditional love.
And we acknowledge that we yearn to be touched by such love, but that we are not always ready to receive it or to give it.
Our fears get in the way, we have hardened our hearts, and busied our lives with cares.
This Easter, we pray that the heavy stones which burden us and separate us from you may be rolled away,
releasing our spirits to love and to new life.

Spirit of life, we confess that too often we have not taken time to search for the beauty of
your creation hidden around us.
As we allow such beauty to go unnoticed we have deprived ourselves of occasions for joy and delight.
This Easter we pray that our senses may come alive, ready to respond to all the beauty, the harmony,
the fragrance, taste and texture of life around us.

It is the season of renewal and all around us everything is bursting into bloom or song.
The hidden beauty of nature is preparing to unfold.
This Easter we would be assured that we too have a hidden inner beauty ready to unfold,
reflecting the image of your creative power.

Spirit of life, we pray for the courage to open ourselves to your touch,
knowing that as we do, we will be changed.
We will grow, but in so doing we must leave behind the outgrown coverings which have hidden our true and
most beautiful selves.

Spirit of life, as we feel you flowing and pulsing within, we pray for a courageous and joyous faith,
empowering us to become our finest and truest selves, empowering us to see your image in our brothers and sisters,
empowering us to participate with you in the creation of a new time of life,
in which love, justice, beauty and peace are abundantly available to all.

For this we pray. Amen.

–Ruth Gibson
>>  Homily

I follow the “TED” talks available online–TED for “Technology, Entertainment, and Design.”
TED is an annual meeting in Monterey, California where a lot of folks get together and see up-to-20-minute
presentations about a whole gamut of current topics, and other things that smart people are thinking about.
There are also musical performances and other things;
Thomas Dolby has been the musical director for the past several years.
All the TED talks, and a smattering of other short, interesting presentations is on their website.
You can even see this guy Phil Rosedale talk about his current big project, something called Second Life.

A few weeks ago, I saw again a talk that was given last year about the difference between liberals and conservatives.
If you have about 20 minutes, you should see the talk; the URL is in the Order of Service:
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html

In this talk, Jonathan Haidt talks about a theory that he and Craig Joseph have developed,
following on work that other sociologists have done.
They postulate that we build our basis of what we consider “moral” on five foundations:

-Harm/Care: 
Basic mammalian nature (and we’re all mammals) is that we care for others and usually
try to avoid harm.
He notes that about 70% of moral statements he hears deal with this.
I’ll refer to this as “care.”

-Fairness/Reciprocity: 
We try to be equitable in out interactions with others, and when something good or bad happens,
we try to respond to action with similar action.
There are some examples in the animal world, but this seems to be a primarily human trait.
This is “fairness” and is also important to how we decide we live a moral life.

-Ingroup/Loyalty: 
We create groups and tribes, and we cooperate, and we are loyal to the group.
There are some animal examples with small groups–such as hunting in a pack; but only humans create large groups.
Haidt even talks about how we’ll form groups where otherwise none exist, like with fans of sports teams.
I’ll call this “loyalty.”

-Authority/Respect: 
We recognize that there is a hierarchy in our society, whether is be something natural like
parent/child, or artificial like manager/employee or officer/enlisted-man.
Because of this hierarchy, certain aspects of respect is automatically recognized.
This is “respect.”

-Purity/Sanctity:
We expect to not act on all our urges, we control them.
Not only should we not act on them, but some think in our core being we shouldn’t even think about them.
I’ll call this “purity.”

So the five foundations are briefly: care, fairness, loyaly, respect, and purity.
I’m not going to try to say how we should think about them right now, but I just want you to realize
that these five concepts exist.
And if you thing about them, these five make up a pretty good list that many people can agree
have bearing on a discussion of morality.
We might disagree on some of the specifics, but you can understand where someone who thinks that
unwavering obedience to the Queen of England can be part of another’s core being.

So what did Jonathan Haidt and Craig Joseph discover?

In thousands of interviews and surveys conducted around the world, they discovered most people can discuss
these five foundation concepts and how they relate to their part of their culture.
They could craft questions asking how individuals thought about these five foundations,
and how important these foundations influenced what they though was a proper moral life.
The researchers then determined how the respondents fit into a spectrum of
“liberal” or “conservative”, and discovered an interesting correlation.

All people think that “care” and “fairness” are strong foundations of a moral life.
In every culture, all respondents agree that these two pillars are very important for one to live a moral life.
And in isolation of other factors, almost everyone agrees that is it better to care and not harm, and to be fair.

But the other three foundations, “loyalty” “respect” and “purity,” were generally equally important only to conservatives.
Not that liberals didn’t think that that these were good things to aspire to, but they were not as important to
consider when one leads a moral life.
These results are roughly the same in the USA, or Latin America, or Europe–Eastern and Western; even China, India, and Africa.
In more religiously traditional areas the difference in imporantance is large,
but in places like the USA and Western Europe the difference is staggering; to liberals, at times zero importance.
And for those who are in the middle of the spectrum, the importance is about halfway between the two extremes.

For example, to liberals “loyalty” is good as a guideline in the nature of “all things being equal, favor your group.”
But liberals also feel that those in a traditionally discriminated group merit affirmative action, and being too
favorable to your group is felt to be a form of xenophobia.
Similarly the nature of purity is felt to limit the experiences that one may have, and liberals tend to be
more experiential than theoretical or didactic.
If a liberal person is more open to experience fine art, the exposed naked breast isn’t really a big deal.

Now that I have discovered the differing treatment of loyalty, respect, and purity, I can see how the
conservative worldview uses this, intentionally or not, to wedge “conservative morals” verses “liberal morals.”
If you are familiar with the Ten Commandments (and I’ll use the Catholic definition I grew up with),
four are about respecting authority, and two deal with purity of thought.
Maybe one deals with care, and maybe one about fairness.

If you comapare this to the Seven Principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association,
you see that our first principle deals with care, and the second with fairness.
If one stretches, loyalty does appear in the third principle that ends “in our congregations.”
The seventh principle calls for respect for all existence, not any individual.
From what I see, purity doesn’t make the list.

Having become aware of this different worldview, I can more easily talk with those whom I disagree.
Conservatives really do look at the world a lot differently than I do, and that’s OK.
And though I disagree with some of their values, I know that I can usually find common ground
when I talk about caring and fairness.

One other little thing that gets under my skin is when my conservative family and friends claim that
“political correctness” is a liberal trait.
Although the recent popular origin of the term did come from the radical left, where it was treated as
a codeword for a joke, one can see where it really is a form of thought-purity. 
This properly becomes a characteristic of political conservatives.
I’m old enough to recall that one never really heard about “political correctness” until Reagan was president.